Since the United States Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June of last year, the ruling has impacted a number of public services and social programs. Social Security, for example, now recognizes same-sex marriages as valid marriages in the states that have laws allowing or recognizing same-sex marriage. This means that same-sex spouses are entitled to the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples, including Social Security benefits.
Same-sex couples will be entitled to Social Security benefits if they live in a state in which same-sex marriage is legal. California is one of those states. Just as with any marriage, spouses will be entitled to dependent or survivors benefits based on earning records. The Social Security Administration also requires a marriage to have lasted for a certain length of time in order for spouses to be eligible for benefits.
Requirements for spousal benefits are as follows:
- Retirement Benefits – In order to be eligible for spousal retirement benefits, same-sex couples must be married for at least one year and the applying spouse must be at least 62 years of age.
- Widow's or Widower's Benefits – Widows and widowers must be at least 60 years of age and must have been legally married for at least nine months before death in order to qualify for widow's or widower's benefits. The nine month requirement may not apply in certain circumstances, including cases where one spouse adopts the others biological child, death is caused by a violent accident, or death occurs during active military duty.
- Survivors and Dependents Benefits – In order to be eligible for these benefits, a marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years.
At Disability Action Advocates, our Sacramento Social Security disability lawyers are available to help all residents throughout Sacramento and the surrounding communities of California learn more about their rights, Social Security benefits, and how our firm can help.
If you have questions about same-sex Social Security benefits or the disability claim process, call 888-460-7957 for a FREE consultation.